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CIBC’s bid for PrivateBancorp; Chip Wilson’s war of words; TD’s proxy fight

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is sweetening its bid to acquire PrivateBancorp Inc. by 20 per cent, as a rally in U.S. bank stocks fuelled by the U.S. election forges ahead.

The amended merger agreement values PrivateBancorp at $6.6-billion, or $60.92 (U.S.) per share. Equity analysts expected that CIBC would have to bolster its offer, but many on Bay Street will wonder whether the Canadian lender is now paying too much to seal the deal.

"We believe that this revised offer for PrivateBancorp gets it over the finish line for CIBC," John Aiken, an analyst at Barclays, wrote in a note to clients. "However, we do not believe that investors will necessarily like the cost." Story

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Lululemon founder Chip Wilson calls for new board, chief executive

Yoga fans strive for a state called "nirodha," where the mind is still and totally focused on a single goal. Lululemon Athletica Inc. founder Chip Wilson was approaching nirodha Thursday, totally focused on replacing the yoga-wear retailer's chief executive officer and board after the company warned Wednesday that this year's results will be below expectations, triggering a 23-per-cent stock-price decline.

Mr. Wilson, who owns 14.6 per cent of Lululemon and saw his net worth slashed by approximately $275-million (U.S.) on Thursday, is dramatically escalating his long-running war of words over the retailer's strategy.

"Sometimes, things need to get broken before they get fixed. Today, we saw that Lululemon is broken," Mr. Wilson said in an interview. "I believe in this company, I believe we have the best business model, but the company needs to move quickly and embrace change … and the Politburo in China is quicker to embrace change than the board of directors." Story

TD shareholders draw first blood in fight for investor proxy access

Shareholders of Toronto-Dominion Bank have struck a symbolic blow in favour of a broader push to give large institutional investors more sway in naming company directors.

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A shareholder proposal urging the bank to adopt a proxy-access bylaw narrowly passed at TD's annual meeting on Thursday, with 52.2 per cent support. It was the first proxy-access proposal put forward at any Canadian company, according to shareholder services firm Kingsdale Advisors.

The vote is not legally binding, and Canada's two largest banks by assets – TD and Royal Bank of Canada – have pushed a decision farther down the road by promising to consult on proxy access and report back at next year's annual meetings. But similar provisions have spread like wildfire at U.S. companies over the past three years, with more than half of S&P 500 firms adopting proxy access in some form. Story

DAILY DEALS

Cenovus Energy's $17.7-billion cash-and-stock deal for most of ConocoPhillips Co.'s oil-sands assets will transform the Calgary-based company into Canada's fourth-largest oil and gas producer by enterprise value. But it comes at a hefty cost. Story

Saudi Aramco has formally appointed JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley and HSBC as international financial advisers for its initial public offering, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. Story

ELSEWHERE IN FINANCE

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Shares in Lululemon Athletica Inc. plunged more than 20 per cent on Thursday after it warned investors that first-quarter sales at established stores would come in lower than the year before. If so, this would be the first decline in comparable sales since 2009 (in constant dollars). These are worrisome signs. But the market's tantrum seems a bit overblown. Story

A bankruptcy judge is taking Bank of America Corp.'s mortgage-handling business to task, saying the firm's dealings with a California couple left them in "a state of battle-fatigued demoralization." Judge Christopher Klein's 107-page excoriation of the bank ended with a $45-million fine. Experts say the eye-popping award shows that courts have lost patience with banks. Story (WSJ, subscription required)

A former Jefferies Group LLC banker was fined £37,198 ($46,350) for boasting about banking deals in WhatsApp messages to a client and a friend last year. Story (WSJ, subscription required)

The fifth floor of a prominent New York art museum is home to a wall of bologna slices, a carousel of dolls orbiting an iPhone-like screen and the words of BlackRock Inc.'s Laurence Fink. Story (WSJ, subscription required)

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